Celebrating the life of Lawr Michaels and fantasy titles won that he would have loved highlights from this week’s Football Week That Was.

I have so much to say about fantasy pioneer and my friend Lawr Michaels.  I cannot file this column without providing some of those thoughts and some of the accolades he so richly deserves.  However, the Lawr Michaels I knew and deeply admired would have insisted that the fantasy analysis come first, so that is the order of this week’s column:

Some Good Week 16 Advice:  Last week, heading into fantasy championship games and a big DFS week, we told you the following:  

Chris Carson will get a ton of run in a game they need to win.  I am buying and you should too.” Well, that worked out as Beast Mode II carried the ball 27 times for 116 yards and 2 TD.  It remains to be seen whether Seattle will go all out to try and maintain the 5 seed in the NFC so be careful penciling in Carson to any week 17 season long championship game or DFS lineup.

“With the weak Bengals next on the schedule and a ton to still play for, you can bet Nick Chubb will see a lot of touches.  I do not own many shares, but DFS lineups, here we come!” We thought Chubb would do even more but 21 touches – 19 carries for 112 yards plus 2 grabs for 3 yards – is still a pretty good day.  Given that the Browns are playing only for pride in week 17, be very careful using Chubb next week. Of course, keeper league owners, enjoy the gem you have for 2019!

“With a date against a Green Bay team that was eliminated and has nothing for which to play, I like Robby Anderson ’s chances of scoring for a third straight week.  (Note, the next closest Jet in targets was just 4. Clearly, Darnold has eyes for Anderson).” Bingo. Anderson reeled in 9 catches for 140 yards and a TD on 13 targets.  Given the Jets had nothing but Sam Darnold 's development and pride on the line in week 16 and went all out, there is little reason to think they will treat week 17 any differently.

“There is no way I am paying the price [for Rob Gronkowski ] in DFS [in week 16].  With just 3 TD and only 2 games over 6 receptions, I am not paying the freight. Not gonna do it.”  A good call for sure but who would have thought Gronk would lay a complete goose egg? Those in week 17 contests, DFS and even playoff fantasy football need to be very cautious.  Very!

Some Strategy Going Forward:

For those playing in week 17 – title games or DFS – try and load up as much as you can on players whose teams are playing for something.  Failing that, grab players on teams who showed their hands by playing their young studs in meaningless games in week 16. They are more likely to stay the course in week 17.

Celebrating the Life of Lawr Michaels:

As you all probably know by now, fantasy sports icon Lawr Michaels passed away this week.  So much has been written (and rightfully so) but I could not file a weekly column without adding my thoughts and tributes to one so deserving.  As a fantasy baseball player, Lawr was special. Precious few people in the world could enter an expert competition like Tout Wars or LABR without a detailed plan, stay relaxed through a grueling 4-5 hour auction, constantly evaluate and then execute brilliantly.  I could not. Lawr could, did, and did so often. As a baseball writer, he was must read for novices and experts alike. I have been reading his stuff since the John Benson annual. As the years passed, I never failed to read his columns. Never.

As good as he was as a baseball writer and mind, Lawr was a far better person.  Let’s face it, those who have ever met either one of us quickly figure out that other than our love of baseball and fantasy sports competitions, Lawr and I had very little in common.  Lawr was the quintessential California Bay Area guy with long hair, jeans and red high top sneakers who enjoyed some recreational habits (shall we say) and played in a rock band. I spent a decade as a federal prosecutor, own a bunch of pinstriped suits, have no musical talent (unless tone deafness is a talent) and have never partaken in those recreational habits.  However, from the day I met Lawr, he made me feel like we were best friends. Indeed, one of the very first times I met him, he insisted that next time I am in California, I stay at his home so that he could show me around, take me to an A’s game, and introduce me to folks in the press box. That was Lawr. Generous and open to friends new and old.

Unfortunately, in the years that followed that gracious invitation, I never did take him up on it.  However, we did get to spend some great times together. At least three to four times a year (typically the FSTA conferences, LABR in Arizona and Tout Wars in New York), I would get to spend time with Lawr.  Each time the greeting would be the same. Me: “Lawr, great to see you.” Lawr: “Oh no you don’t, come here” and he would proceed to give me the most genuine, heartfelt bear hug with a strength that defied his physical challenges and thin build.  Then after each and every one of those industry events, I would read Lawr’s columns, hear him interviewed on air and/or read his social media posts in which he gushed about the most recent industry event at which he got to spend time with his “buds.”  Who would have ever thought that this pretty buttoned up lawyer would be so thrilled to be one of Lawr Michael’s “buds”? But I was, I am and always will be.

There are so many stories – funny, poignant, serious, etc. -- and I am sure I will get to tell more as the fantasy industry celebrates the life of Lawr Michaels.  I look forward to that opportunity to celebrate and honor one so deserving. For now, I will close with the same West Wing paraphrase I tweeted out upon learning the devastating news that Lawr Michaels had passed away:

This week, the fantasy sports industry lost a giant and I lost a friend.  Rest in peace my friend.